Tea and Artificial Sweeteners

The English served black tea with sugar cubes for centuries.  It just seems to go together.  Some say the sweetness of the sugar counteracts the bitterness of the tea.  Actually, if the tea made correctly will not have excess bitterness and thus, will not need sugar.  Still, there are those that cannot possibly drink tea without some sort of sweetener.

Artificial sweeteners came out on the market as early as the late 1800s. Saccharin was invented by Constantin Fahlberg who, by accident, spilled powder while he was working in his chemistry lab. Later on, he licked his finger and found it very sweet.  Tea was sweetened by saccharin during World War I. A study found it to produce cancer in rats in the 1970s and later in 2008; a study at Purdue University proved that it made people gain weight. Saccharin is still available on the market and still used to sweeten tea but it may not be the healthiest alternative. 

Aspartame is a popular artificial sweetener that came to the market in the 1980's. It is an ingredient used to sweeten gum, soda and tea.  It is even a component in ice tea mixes. Some people have intolerance to aspartame. It gives them headaches, nausea and other symptoms.  There have been studies in Italy that showed increased risk of cancer, but this test used rats given the substance throughout their lives.  There is no direct evidence that it causes cancer in humans. 

An artificial sweetener that is not very popular is Acesulfame-K. It is a substance in nondairy creamers and some sodas, and also gets used as a table sugar suitable for hot and cold tea. It was approved in 1998 for use in beverages and then in 2003 for general food use under the name Sunette. It is so new it is not clear if it is totally safe for substantial use. 

The most recent artificial sweetener is Sucralose, also known as Splenda. It has no calories and many soda pop companies are using to sweeten their produces. It is also showing up in bottled and canned iced tea. Sucralose is 600 times sweeter than sugar and contains no calories. It is in the yellow packets on the table to use in ice and hot tea. 

Most tea connoisseurs frown on putting any kind of sweetener in tea because it hides the flavor of the tea leaves. With the variety of teas on the market, there should be one suitable to be drunk without sweetener for anyone's taste. Those that can have sugar should probably stick to sugar because of the danger posed by artificial sweeteners.  Just limit the amount of sugar used. Instead of sugar cubes, use a half teaspoon of sugar. Or try honey, which pairs with tea in a lovely manner and offers additional health benefits.

Unity Teapots sells fine Asian tea ware, and is a great source to find cast iron teapots, kyusu teapots, and Yixing teapots.

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